San Felipe, Baja Calif.: Everyone made it to San Felipe during stage one of “The Happiest Race On Earth!” the Yokohama NORRA Mexican 1000.
The Bikes left the line in Ensenada bright and early at 6:00 a.m; the 4 wheeled vehicles departed at 9:00 a.m. While not an easy day, competitors did get a chance to ease into the rally a little bit. Many of the roads they ran on were familiar to seasoned Baja travelers. The top overall bike was Steve Hengeveld on his Honda CRF450X racing in the Modern Open class. He was followed by Skyler Howes, also on a CRF450X and racing in the Modern Open Class. It looks like a duel for the overall has emerged already.
Ben Shuckburgh was 3rd overall racing in the 50+ (aka Vintage Dudes) class on a Honda XR650R. 2nd place in 50+ (aka Vintage Dudes) and 6th overall was a dude and a chick, Kevin and Michele Busch riding double on their Honda XR650R. The duo are always having fun at NORRA, and typically ride back home from the finish every year. Bikes from all classes are spread throughout the results and the top quad was Eric Toohey on a Suzuki LTR 450.
Mark Post was running up front as usual in his #3 Historic Truck and Truggy class FORD F-150 and was the first 4 wheeled vehicle to finish. The first 4 overall finishers were all in separate classes. 2nd overall was Joe Black in his Ivan Stewart Pro-Truck. Joe and his team have been a part of NORRA since the beginning. 3rd overall and the first buggy was Jon Walker in the Evolution Prerun Buggies class; driving his Kreger 4 seater. 4th place overall was Jessica McMillin driving her Geiser Trophy Truck in the Evolution Unlimited Truck class. Rounding out the top 5 was Zak Langley, also in Evolution Unlimited Truck driving his Racer Trophy Truck. Looking at the results, a couple are very interesting. One is the 9th overall finish put in by Drew Belk in his vintage class 5 VW. He must have been hauling! Another that merits mention is in the Evolution Ultra 4×4 class. Jason Shipman was 10th overall and 1st in class in his Campbell Ent. Buggy. 2nd in class was JT Taylor in his Torchmate Buggy. JT was 11th overall, only 5 seconds behind Shipman.
Some of the competitors had smooth sailing the whole way. Taylor Anderson from Rigid Industries said his run was clean, fast, and super awesome. 5 time winner Boyd Jaynes said only that it was hot, but the Yokohama Bronco, El Diablo Caballo, was running strong. There were others who had some gremlins with fuel and spark, but that’s racing. Surprisingly, NORRA veteran Greg DiStefano put his F-150 on its side. “We over-rotated on the 90 degree turn after the Ojos Jump and did a low-speed tip over,” Says Greg, “The truck, and everyone onboard are fine. Towards the end of the stage we came upon Gay Smith lying on his side so we stopped to help him out. We pulled him back over on all 4 wheels and his car rolled back and smashed into our taillight and bedside. Ha, Ha, it was a fun day overall.”
It was good to get some miles on the cars and for the navigators, and riders to get familiar with the AlerTraX system. Stage 2 travels from San Felipe to Guerrero Negro for the bikes, and the 4 wheel vehicles will run to Bahia De Los Angeles, over 200 miles. They will be treated to some spectacular scenery along the way.
All Photos by BinkDesigns.com